Landry Jones was a fourth round draft pick in 2013 that looked like a prototypical pocket passer with a strong arm, but since he's been on the team, he hasn't shown much promise of being a worthy backup you would want in the game.
The Steelers saw the need to have Bruce Gradkowski in the playoffs this season when Ben Roethlisberger went down, and if Gradkowski were to get hurt the next option would have been the oft-inactive Jones, a player that if you watch his preseason tape, you would probably beg for Tommy Maddox return to the team.
While third string quarterback is one of the least pressing issues that any NFL team will have to consider, the Steelers have recognized the need to have a better third quarterback option than what Jones has been, and brought in some young competition to either replace Jones or make him improve his game. Here's five reasons why the result will be the former.
1) Landry Jones has fumbled in four of his six appearances on the field as a Steeler.
Jones' preseason numbers aren't impressive in the least, but one thing that his draft profile warned about was his lack of confidence in the pocket. Scouts made it a note that Jones would easily get rattled by pressure, even when it wasn't there, and how it would lead to mistakes. Boyd was able to avoid throwing an interception and didn't fumble once in his rookie preseason appearances. Jones' first play ever as a Steeler in his rookie preseason showed just that. Against the Giants and in front of the home crowd, Jones bobbled a snap at the four yard line, fumbled it backwards, only to recover it in the endzone and to be tackled for a safety.
2) Tajh Boyd is a better athlete.
Another one of the knocks against Jones was his lack of athleticism and how that might come back to bite him. While Boyd is no Michael Vick, or even Kordell Stewart, he can be more mobile than what Jones provides, which adds an extra dimension to his game. His college game shows he has a powerful arm that can zip short passes and boom long ones, even if a bunch of them aren't entirely accurate. What he brings to the table makes him a better option in this regard as well.
3) Landry Jones' best performance as a quarterback in the preseason was during a shutout.
As wacky as that may seem, his best performance came this past preseason when the Steelers lost 0-10 to the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field. It was also the fourth preseason game, so Jones had the opportunity to prove himself against other journeyman players that were also fighting for roster spots for the Panthers. While he did go 14-18 with no interceptions for an 89.1 quarterback rating, he only managed 97 yards, was sacked three times, fumbled, and didn't lead Pittsburgh's backup offense to even a single point. The one game in which the Steelers won in the preseason while Jones was in the game was against the Buffalo Bills this past preseason where he threw two completions and turned the ball over twice.
4) In the only game where Boyd threw for more than five passes, he didn't look horrible.
Even though the New York Jets still took a thumping in last year's preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Boyd was able to put the Jets on the board with a touchdown pass, something Jones hasn't thrown since 2013. Boyd managed to go 7-12 for 92 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions or fumbles. That gave him a 110.4 rating for the day even as the Jets lost 37-7.
5) It's now or never for Jones, and the never is winning by a lot.
Usually when you look at a young draft pick in their third season, you try to see what positives they might have shown in their limited opportunities as a player on the field. Usually there's a big hit, or a sack, a turnover, a good game somewhere on their resume even if it was against the third third team in a game that did not matter.
However, Jones has not really given much to look at in that regard. He threw two touchdowns in 2013, but those were in games where he had a lot of attempts and completed under 50-percent of his passes.
The hope for Jones has been that his strong arm will be accompanied by his learning the playbook and being able to make plays in the Steelers' offense enough so that someday soon he could be Ben Roethlisberger's young and useful backup. So far, Jones has yet to show much of being that. Boyd is coming into the team looking for a job and if he ends up moving the Steelers' offense better than what Jones has shown over the past year, don't be surprised if he's the new third string quarterback going into the Steelers' season opener vs. the New England Patriots.